April 26, 2007

Our cat Abeeza comes with us when we walk the dog. He tails us like Jacques Clouseu or Inspector Gadget or Boris and Natasha, furtively darting from tree to car to hedge, as if his jingling collar doesn't belie his presence.

This cat is not afraid to travel. Abeeza was born a stray and then was taken in by our neighbors. He decided to adopt us instead, however, and when our neighbors moved they didn't try to bring him along. Abeeza tends to leave for days at a time, especially in the summers; people often pick him up and call us, asking if we've lost our cat. We tell them no, let him go, he's fine. So it's not too unusual for Abeeza to shadow us on our evening walks, sometimes for a mile or more.

Abeeza's relationship with Obie is clear: the dog is the cat's bitch. If Obie is on the couch and Abeeza wants up, all he has to do is look at the dog and he's got the couch all to himself. The dog will take detours around the house to avoid crossing the cat's path. And if Obie even attempts to come near Abeeza when he's eating, look out. Despite all this, because dogs are dogs, Obie loves Abeeza, and would hold no grudge with him if the cat one day decided to be his best friend. They do play together sometimes, Abeeza as hunter and Obie as prey, but these games almost always end quickly and decisively.

It delights Obie to no end when Abeeza come on walks with us. He prances around excitedly and then bows, rear skyward, trying to illicit play. Abeeza's usual response is indifference, but sometimes the dog's attempts are met with a hiss or, the most entertaining (for me, anyway), a kind of kickass ninja death lunge. For Abeeza, the dog is a perpetual thorn in his side, an annoying bouncy puppy for whom he has no love. Until last night, anyway.

As we walked along a quiet residential street, Obie leading the way and Abeeza stealthily following, another cat took up our trail. This cat was surly looking, mean, butch, something to reckon with. Abeeza, who is the king of our neighborhood, was surely no match for this hardcore kitty. I quickened my pace, but the bullycat just stalked Abeeza faster. And so I stopped, prepared to bear witness to (and hopefully intervene in) an epic cat fight.

But our cat did not have fighting in mind. Instead Abeeza strutted casually over to us and sat directly behind Obie, using him as a kind of puppy shield. Bullycat arched his back and hissed, plans foiled and pissed about it. Obie leapt up and down, completely oblivious to the entire exchange. And Abeeza? He nonchalantly flicked his tail and narrowed his eyes as if to say, "This is my bodyguard, bitch. So back off." Brilliant.

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